The updates usually accompany new technologies and services, and do not represent policy shifts or noticeable service changes; hence the heedless recipient. But as the recent Instagram controversy shows, providers should avoid hiding big changes in small print.
“You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
Thus, it seemed, by uploading photos to Instagram, users were deemed to have consented to use by others of the images for advertising materials. To add injury to insult, users would be neither notified nor compensated for this use of their images.
Alert users did take notice of this “update.” The internet erupted in a firestorm of criticism as well as widely circulated articles from Gizmodo, Slate, CNET, Wired, Mashableand major news outfits like the New York Times disparaged Instagram’s “Instagrab.” The public relations nightmare, coming three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the photo-sharing site, resulted in the unique coming together of Pink with Kim Kardashian, and prompted an abrupt about face and mea culpa from CEO Kevin Systrom, who insisted, “Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos, you do.” It appears as if Instagram was not really seeking to steal and profit from misappropriation, but probably issuing an overbroad provision to try to protect itself for the future or in the event of inadvertent uses of users’ images.